We have reached the end of 1 Samuel! Look to the end to hear what is coming next in my blogging life.
In chapter 29, the Philistines did not allow David and his men to fight King Saul alongside them. We talked about how frustrated with Saul David and his men must have been, and how many of them were probably quite eager to jump into the fight alongside the Philistines. Now, the men return to find that the Amalekites have raided their town, burned their buildings, and stolen their women and children. The anger of these warriors turns against David. David turns to God, and God answers him. God tells David to pursue the Amalekites, and ensures victory in rescuing the women. The men with David pursue, and as many are exhausted from going out to battle just before this new adventure, they stay behind. David and many men continue on. They find an Egyptian servant who has been left behind by the Amalekites because he was sick. This servant takes David and his men to the Amalekites in exchange for his life, and they recover their belongings and their women and children. Upon returning to the men who stayed behind a quarrel arises over whether or not they can have their belongings returned since they did not participate in the battle with the Amalekites. However, David decides, and it becomes law in future generations as well, that those who stay behind with the baggage receive an equal share as those who go to the fight. The chapter ends with David sending a portion of the spoils to all the elders of Judah in every area they had sojourned throughout 1 Samuel.
All has turned out well for David now, and he has even built up relationship with those who will be his subjects when God fulfills His promise to make David king instead of Saul. So, whatever did happen in that battle with the Philistines?
Chapter 31, the final chapter of 1 Samuel, returns us to Saul’s camp. The Philistines fought against Israel. Israel fled and were overtaken. The sons of Saul were killed and Saul was wounded by archers. Saul asked his armor-bearer to kill him, but the armor-bearer was afraid, so Saul took his own life by falling on his sword. The armor-bearer also fell on his own sword. The Israelites fled from the battle. The Philistines took the head and body of Saul and placed them up to be shown off, but the men of Jabesh-gilead went in the night and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and burned them and buried their bones. This ends the reading of 1 Samuel
David and his men, the Amalekites, the women and children in Ziklag, David’s wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel, Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel, Abiathar the priest, the Lord God, an Egyptian, the elders of Judah, the Philistines, Israel, Saul and his sons: Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchisua, archers, Saul’s armor-bearer, the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead
Verse 6: And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Exodus 17:4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
Numbers 14:10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.
In times of great stress, God is not stressed. He has a plan already, and as leaders we must turn to Him for counsel. Leaders are placed in a position where the anger of those who follow can be directed. Both leaders and followers must turn to God for the best way. The Lord draws near to those who call on Him. This is always true.
In contrast, Saul, the king, a leader by title, does not turn to God in his battle. He seeks death. He asks to be killed by his armor-bearer because he is afraid.
Jesus in the Old Testament
“The habits of a lifetime show themselves in extreme circumstances. From an early age, David was convinced that even a giant among the “uncircumcised Philistines” was no match for his big God (17:26). Through the encouragement of a faithful friend like Jonathan, David had developed the habit of finding strength in God (cf. 23:16). Saul, by contrast, had developed the habit of thinking little of God and regularly giving more weight to circumstances. This meant that he vacillated between overwhelming fear and overweening pride, depending on the circumstances. Threats from “uncircumcised Philistines” held little fear for David but literally scared Saul to death.”*
I think in my own life, and possibly yours, it can be so easy to fall into the temptation to just react to circumstances. However, choosing to be able to respond by seeking God, taking that moment to stop and look at the Truth, is all the difference.
“The magnificent truth of the gospel is that to fear God (to give him ultimate weight) is to dispel all other fears”*
Exodus 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”
Romans 8:35, 37-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Those verses are really something! Wow!
Another month has passed in between my posting chapters 28 and 29 and now this chapter 30 and 31 study. This book has taken far too long to get through, but as I reach these last references it is all put in perspective. As I sit down to work on this today I feel burdened by disappointment that I was not able to take one day a week to study the Scripture. I realize that the accountability of those of you following with me is not as weighty as I would like. I have not had the self-motivation needed to continue the study when there were distractions. However, this Bible study is a piece of a tapestry. I started the blog Bible study as a way to stay in community and study of the Bible. In America I was a part of a Bible study that meant once a month, as well as a Bible study that met once a week. Losing those to become a missionary has been a great loss for me. However, in Lebanon I have also taken on the challenge of reading the entire Bible this year, and of reading many sections of the Bible multiple times. This makes a Blog Bible Study of this intensity and format quite challenging. As I sit this month and evaluate my goals, I achieved the goal of finishing the 1 Samuel Blog Bible Study, however, I did not finish two studies. There is a lack of consistency in my writing. In the coming year, I am going to scale back my expectations for reading the Bible so that I can give more weight to the studying piece. I am going to try different formats as well.
The first step on this journey to more consistency in my blog posting, is that I am offering a FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. For those of you who enjoy the Blog Bible Study, there is a piece to this Challenge just for you! I am including in each prompt and daily instruction ideas for kickstarting a prayer journal. This can easily be used as a way to engage with the Bible as well. Finally, I will be posting each day during the Challenge, which will provide you with ways to pray for me and my family during our trip to America and inevitable culture shock. Thank you for following me through this book, even though it took over a year to get through it! We did it!
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.
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